The Bears in fact have a Super Bowl defense. It just depends on what Super Bowl you’re talking about.
For all of the hand-wringing hysteria over the Bears’ non-existent run defense, which now ranks officially as the NFL’s worst with its 145.2 yards allowed per game, that is in itself no reason why the Bears cannot reach and even win the Super Bowl.
Maybe blame the NFL, which has systematically sought to make itself a passing league. If you really want something to worry about, perhaps it should be the appalling average of 4.9 yards per carry being allowed. Except that among the teams allowing 4.5 or more are New England, Kansas City, New Orleans and Dallas – all leading or tied for first in their divisions.
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In any case, two things to consider:
A run defense considerably worse than the Bears’ won a recent Super Bowl. It shouldn’t be difficult to remember; it was the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, who ranked 32nd with 176.0 yards allowed per game.
Obviously they reached and won that Super Bowl because of an offense that was tied for No. 2 in the NFL with 26.7 points per game. The team they were tied with: the Bears.
The Colts were in fact significantly better than that, however, when they got injured safety Bob Sanders in their secondary. Fair enough; but then the Bears should be allowed to have back linebacker Lance Briggs, their best defensive player, before dismissing either the defense or the season.
And none of the last four Super Bowl winners ranked any better than 18th against the run. But adding to the point around the 2006 Colts, the key is to be very, very good at one side of the ball, like scoring:
|Year||SB Winner||Run D/ypg||Offense ppg|
The Bears’ run defense is indeed the NFL’s worst, giving up 258 against the St. Louis Rams and now drawing the Minnesota Vikings, who had Adrian Peterson rush for 100 yards against a defense that still had Briggs, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman and D.J. Williams.
But the Bears are currently fourth in scoring at 27.5 points per game, even with their problems inside the 5-yard line. That is more than nine of the last 10 Super Bowl winners.
Meaning: If the Bears’ run defense can simply improve to “bad” from its current state, possibly when it gets Briggs back, as the Colts’ did when they returned Sanders…
Stranger things have happened.